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About Shop Ethical

Shop Ethical! provides information on the environmental and social record of companies behind the brand names of common products available in Australia. This is based on assessment gathered from over 90 key sources including the work of organisations such as CDP, B Corporation, As You Sow and the World Benchmarking Alliance.

This website provide ratings for companies and more detailed information on the specific assessments used to generate these ratings.

We recommend you start by thinking about the products you presently buy and browsing the guide to find out more about their hidden story. Or, browse our related issues and further resources for reducing your impact by being deliberate about the things you buy.

With every dollar you spend you have an impact on the planet and its people.

We live in a time of human rights abuse, animal cruelty, genetically modified foods and the massive impact of industry on the environment. These things can seem beyond our control, but every time we buy something, the money we spend endorses a company and its activities.

By avoiding companies with a negative track record and buying products from companies who have a positive impact, we can send a strong message for change and support the practices that make our world a better place to live in. Companies need our money to stay in business – money talks, and your dollar literally is your vote.

What are the issues behind your clothing?

What is Shopping Ethically?

The ways in which you can act as an ‘ethical consumer’ can take on a number of often subtle forms.

  • Positive buying is favouring ethical products, be they fair trade, organic or cruelty free. This option is arguably the most important since it directly supports progressive companies.
  • Negative purchasing means avoiding products you disapprove of such as battery eggs or polluting cars.
  • Company-based purchasing involves targeting a business as a whole. For example, the Nestlé boycott targets all its brands and subsidiaries in a bid to force the company to change its marketing of baby milk formula in the Third World.
  • The fully screened approach is a combination of all three and means looking at all the companies and products together and evaluating which brand is the most ethical. This is exactly what we do in the magazine and the ‘Best Buys’ we recommend aim to be the best, fully screened products available.

Source: Ethical Consumer

Using Consumer Power

“The power consumers have to change the conduct and actions of companies comes from their dollars and the choices they make as consumers.”

The benefits to society of buying ethically are potentially far-reaching. It encourages innovative products and companies while discouraging others that ignore the social and environmental consequences of their actions. It empowers the consumer, giving you a say in how the products you buy are made, and how the company that makes them conducts its business. It can and has made a difference in the past.

Source: Ethical Consumer

There is no “right” way to be an ethical consumer. Most of us apply ethical parameters to our choices and actions in some way. To think and act in an ethical way is to start from a point of personal reflection, develop and re-develop our values, and understand how our choices affect the outcomes of our actions. In order to develop a set of principles which can help to direct our patterns of consumption, we need to become as well informed as possible about a wide range of issues.

Source: Spiral Community Hub

A Question of Equality

The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects. Inequalities in consumption are stark. Globally, the 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures – the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%. …. We consume a variety of resources and products today having moved beyond basic needs to include luxury items and technological innovations to try to improve efficiency. … Much of the world cannot and do not consume at the levels that the wealthier in the world do. Indeed, the above U.N. statistics highlight that very sharply. In fact, the inequality structured within the system is such that .. “some one has to pay” for the way the wealthier in the world consume.

Behind Consumption and Consumerism, by Anup Shah

In the end we look for a society where the environment is respected, where human rights are properly protected and animals are no longer cruelly exploited. But wider than that, we look beyond government control of the way we live and how companies act, believing real power should lie in the hands of individuals and communities. A world like this would require truly radical changes and we see this manifesto as merely the first step along that road…

Our central concern remains the empowerment of consumers through the provision of information and by promoting debate about the limits of consumer power. … We believe that companies of the future should be as open and transparent as some of our better governments are now.

Ethical Consumer Research Association’s Manifesto for Change (UK), 2001